Open any medicine cabinet, and you will be almost guaranteed to find a range of painkillers amongst your collection. These may be in the form of nutraceuticals or pharmaceuticals, depending on how you opt to manage your pain.
You are likely to have come across nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, commonly known as NSAIDs, at chemists, supermarkets, and even your local corner shop but how much do you really know about these drugs?
- How NSAIDs Target Pain and Inflammation
NSAIDs work as much more than merely a painkiller, and as the name suggests, are an effective anti-inflammatory, taken as a common alternative to harsher corticosteroid drugs.
They supress the action of special enzymes in your body (COX-1 or COX-2) which are responsible for producing prostaglandins. At high levels, prostaglandins act on nerve endings which cause both pain and an inflammatory response.
- Which NSAID is Right for Me?
There are a number of different NSAIDs, which are categorised according to their chemical structure. The most commonly found active ingredients include diclofenac, ibuprofen, naproxen and celecoxib. Depending on their strength, NSAIDs are available as both OTC and prescription medication. It is always best to consult a medical professional as the most effective NSAID for you will depend on your specific ailment. You may even find that a nutraceutical will effectively target your pain and inflammation as a safe, gentler alternative.
- Protecting Your Stomach
An unwanted possible side-effect of NSAIDs is that they have the capacity to cause stomach ulcers. It is recommended to take NSAIDs alongside either a meal, or a glass of milk. Alcohol should also be avoided.
Whilst stomach ulceration would be rare for the occasional user, those who are taking NSAIDs regularly would also often be advised to take a medication containing esomeprazole, to help protect against this risk.
- Other Things to Avoid
Some NSAIDs can also prevent blood clots which, whilst beneficial to some people, can cause dangerous interactions for others who are taking blood-thinning medications. There are also reported interactions with a number of other drugs, so you should always talk to a GP or pharmacist before taking NSAIDs.
- Topical Alternative
Did you know that as well as the well-known oral forms, some NSAIDs are also available as a topical gel or ointment? This would be a good choice to combat muscular or joint inflammation which has an obvious area of irritation, so that the medication can be directly applied and targeted to this specific area.
So, whether you are suffering from a chronic inflammatory condition, or simply wanting to alleviate temporary pain and swelling, you can now approach your use of painkillers with a hoard of new information.
To avoid the risk of side-effects from harsh chemical compounds found in pharmaceuticals NSAIDs altogether, nutraceuticals containing anti-inflammatory properties can be a good starting point and natural alternative in managing your symptoms.